#LetterEnvy is a real thing—you scroll through artists on Instagram and you think to yourself, “I wish my letters looked like that!”
Good news, and good news: First, your letters look like you, which means they’re already fantastic. And second: If you want to improve your style or draw inspiration from others you follow, it’s very simple to do!
Many lettering artists have their own signature look, but also use a few artistic tricks to customize their work for every situation. Be it mixing fonts or adding flourishes, practicing a few of these easy tweaks will help you bring your work to the next level.
Imagine there’s a line that your letters travel on, and then exaggerate your strokes so that the curves and connectors bounce above and below the line. This makes your letters take on a new, more fluid shape, and is great for writing out names on place cards or gift bags. Specifically, this will help shorter names or phrases take up more space!
To practice this style, try using the word “minimum.” The consistent humps and connectors make it easy to practice this movement.
Mix Up Your Fonts
The easiest way to experiment with style is to loosen up your font. Is there a letter you hate writing, or feel like you can’t master? Make up your own form, or pull back from traditional calligraphy strokes and add in some regular print letters or bolder typefaces.
My least favorite letter is the lowercase “f,” so I tend to forego the traditional looped letter in favor of something more fluid, and lose the top loop of the cursive f and instead use a straight line. It’s a more casual letter, but it fits my style.
Mixed fonts are great for creating prints and quotes, because you can make your sentences fit together more easily—like a letter puzzle!
For those who aspire to create calligraphy for weddings or other formal events, adding special flourishes is a great way to define your style. This technique works well for tags, place cards, or seating charts.
To practice, work with a pencil to experiment with large loops and sweeping strokes. Make sure your flourish goes with the direction of the letter—if your pen is traveling down the page, that’s the direction the flourish should go. It’s a very natural movement, so loosen your wrist and just let the letters flow!
You may be familiar with “monoline” lettering, as it’s becoming much more popular in modern calligraphy. This style basically eliminates the thick and thin strokes — so it’s great when you are writing with regular pens or markers — but maintains the style of cursive and flourishes. This is very sleek, and can be fun for signage at a party.